As we move into a post-pandemic world, European Gaming spoke to Chris Miller Managing Director at Betting Jobs and Mario Zdelican, Co-founder/EVP of Operations at Huddle about the future of recruitment in iGaming and the lessons to be learnt from the last two years.
In-person industry shows like ICE are returning after a hiatus. How important are these for both candidates and recruiters?
CM: Prior to the pandemic I would have said that in-person shows like ICE were essential. They serve as a great time to make introductions to clients who are hiring and candidates who are attending with a goal of employment. We can often be the matchmaker there and then and produce a successful outcome.
Over these last two years both we and our clients have had to adapt without them, of course. In a post-pandemic world, they may not seem as essential as we once felt they were. However, we will be making the most of having everyone in one place at the same time at ICE and other industry shows as it represents an opportunity for Betting Jobs to make things happen instantly.
MZ: Building relationships with talent across other industries, as well as the IT community, locally and globally is of essential importance when recruiting and this was incredibly challenging during pandemic-related lockdowns. There were attempts made in the form of online conferences, but the networking part could never be replicated and struggled to reach pre-pandemic levels.
Going back to in-person shows will help us in further building relationships with candidates. Great talent wants to build relationships with prospective employers and the people who work there, and this is much easier to achieve now that we are able to travel again. It is much easier to explain and demonstrate the Huddle vision and culture, as well as our projects, by actually showcasing it in-person to potential new employees.
Will the hybrid model of working persist in a post-pandemic world and what challenges does it raise?
MZ: We are sure hybrid work is here to stay. Over the course of the pandemic, we have witnessed enormous change within the working world – organisations that were once resistant to employees working from home have undergone a dramatic shift towards being open to work from home and hybrid models.
Since there was no playbook for those scenarios, organisations all over the globe had to try out various ways of dealing with distributed work. We are already seeing new organisational designs around hybrid workplaces, with a multitude of adjustments being made by companies looking to create a model that works for them. In the coming years, we are surely going to experience more and more challenges, but improvements as well. A long time ago we said goodbye to traditional working models, with employee well-being and work-life balance now the focus of the change. We are excited to see what the future brings. Based on what we have learned so far, we will have no problems in adapting to whatever comes our way.
CM: For me there is no doubt that the hybrid model of working will persist. I do expect some pushback from companies who traditionally require candidates to relocate to jurisdictions like Malta, Gibraltar, and Bulgaria to carry out their work. However, candidates are currently more attracted to companies that offer either fully remote working or a hybrid model of employment. There is never enough available iGaming talent to satisfy the entire marketplace at once. Therefore, the companies that are winning on the recruitment front are those who are agile in their approach to hiring and who are willing to embrace current market trends.
In terms of challenges, the building and maintaining a company culture is one of the most topical. Some iGaming businesses have taken to these changes well by being receptive to remote working from the earliest days of the pandemic, or having remote working already established within their business model. Working from home and nurturing their company’s culture simultaneously has become natural to them and their business practices.
Those who have struggled to adapt to this are eager to return to traditional employment. These businesses will find it may take longer to fill positions at large, as candidates have more choice and flexibility available to them currently. The way the working world has changed in the last two years will prove to be an ongoing challenge for those who are eager to return to the Monday to Friday 9-5 model.
What opportunities have been created for businesses being able to hire prospective employees who can work anywhere in the world?
CM: Accessing skillsets and talented employees who would have been out of reach to businesses previously for geographical reasons has created many opportunities. When it is determined that an employee must be based in a set location, the decision for who to hire is based on who is available within a reasonable radius, or who will be willing to relocate. This means that a company may hire the best person they have interviewed, as opposed to hiring who is the best person for the job.
This issue is eliminated for those open to global talent, however, there are sensible factors to consider such as the differences in time zone between employee and employer. However, the world is your oyster, as they say, and this rings true in the present day when it comes to recruitment.
MZ: Remote work helps us to reach the top talents around the globe, and it greatly facilitates the growth and development of both the business and the product. The iGaming industry has so much to offer, as do the start-ups that operate within it. Start-ups like Huddle are becoming more and more of an attractive prospect on the recruitment scene, and now we have the ability to work with talents from anywhere in the world. It feels as if we are just starting to show the potential of opportunities for the top candidate profiles.
Does this allow for the hiring of experienced staff in burgeoning markets such as the US and Latin America?
MZ: The iGaming industry has never been as much in demand for talent as it is now – it is suffering from a lack of industry expertise. This is mostly due to the US and LatAm markets opening up, as well as other, smaller, markets. Demand for talent, new products and services is at its peak. Therefore, we are trying to think outside of the box. As easy as it is to hire people within the industry, there are candidates in many tech companies across various industries that are a perfect fit that have already solved some of the problems we as an industry are facing. Bringing that knowledge under our roof as an industry is a huge plus.
CM: In some cases, yes, although we are finding that many of our US clients maintain office working policies. If that’s the case, this is of course what we work towards, although we do make the realities of the present-day candidate-led recruitment market clear. To a large degree it depends on the role that is available. For example, if it is for a commercial person who is required to meet clients, it is less important for them to be office-based than, say, the person who manages or has oversight of the office.
For the burgeoning market of Latin America, country managers and their teams are a good example, as many will naturally be based remotely. Businesses don’t want to establish many companies across the continent and pay for office rental. It’s commonplace for people in such positions to work remotely and hire teams within their country. However, this is not a new thing as it has been the case since the early days of the sector and remains that way now.